As part of supporting the Zonta International Centennial Biennium, Zontians in Area 5, District 30 organized a conference titled “Women in the Balkans in the next 100” on 23 March in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.
The event focused on ending poverty, legal prerequisites for raising the economic status of women, cyber crimes against women, human trafficking of women in the Balkans and preventing domestic violence.
Zonta International Director Sigrid Duden, Bulgarian Vice President Iliana Iotova and Tsecka Tsacheva, who was the Justice Minister at the time, all participated in the event. Members of the Bulgarian parliament and various NGOs were also in attendance.
The conference was organized with the support of the Stara Zagora Municipality.
Zonta International Director Sigrid Duden underlined the importance of a strong network of women to support its members in the Balkans and globally, in fighting for women’s rights, and ultimately, for human rights.
In her speech “Women Leaders in an Age of Leadership Deficit,” Iliana Iotova pointed to the professional areas which until today were dominated by men. These are areas such as information technology.
“Today, women in senior leadership positions are not missing, however we are still far from equality. The social and professional role of women is of pinnacle significance today," she said.
View photos from the event here.
The Vice Mayor of Stara Zagora, Ivanka Sotirova, discussed the significance of quality education for every woman, despite it not always being a priority according to today’s family values.
Tsetska Tsacheva, the then-minister of Justice, whose resignation was handed in and accepted on the day of the Conference, inspired a heated discussion with her speech “Domestic Violence: Challenges and Best Practice.” Participants debated possible functional legal amendments in the prevention of domestic violence.
Teodora Krumova from the Center for Multiethnic Dialogue -- Amalipe presented figures related to early marriage in the Roma community in Bulgaria, which will contribute to Zonta's signature project to end child marriage.
Commissioner Yavor Kolev, head of Transborder Organized Crime Department at the Ministry of National Affairs, shared statistics that one in every 10 women has experienced cyber crime by the time she turns 15, while national security specialist Manoil Manev talked about the number of victims in the country.
Participants at the forum agreed to prepare an open letter to institutions and public bodies that included recommendations for legal amendments related to domestic violence in its various modern forms. The official letter will be posted to the Speaker of Parliament Tsveta Karayancheva and the director of the Parliamentary Committee of Justice.